In the past three or so centuries, there have been talks about deviations in life brought about by technological advancements. In the 1900s, human life underwent a significant change with the inception of writing and printing. Today, human life has further transformed thanks to the invention of the Internet and computers, which are among the latest technological advancements. It cannot be refuted that most human functions today cannot be undertaken without the use of technology. For instance, people have become dependent on the Internet for information and communication although this has received criticism from a few individuals who argue that this has adverse effects on human interactions. The concern about how technology has had a significant influence on individuals and society brought up the issue of “technological determinist” with the term commonly being used by politicians and the media. The use of the term in the media is often aimed at stressing its role when it comes to governing communication content. Essentially, the technological determinism theory argues that technology is the key driver of social and cultural change in society. In other words, this theory presumes that social and cultural change can hardly be witnessed without technology in the picture. From this, it can be deduced that the technological determinist is significant as it makes people understand the influence of technology on society.
Regarding the approach in question, the focus is not on being against or for technological advances. Rather, it centers on the existing influence or relationship between technological advancements and societal changes. Hence, the arguments on whether technology influences are good or bad are null and void. Some theorists have drummed support for the technological determinist theory with one of the most well-known being Marshall McLuhan. His primary argument was that technologies should be seen as extensions of human capacities. For instance, with technologies such as computers, people’s capacities to perform day to day functions are increased significantly. He further argued that electric technology, believed to be a medium or process of both ancient and contemporary human time, has played an integral role in the restructuring and reshaping of patterns of social interdependence and all other aspects of the personal lives of humans. Based on this, McLuhan stressed on the need for humans to re-evaluate and reconsider their thoughts, actions, and every institution they took for granted previously. In the 1990s, upon the emergence of mass digital technologies, McLuhan’s argument attracted attention because people viewed media as one of the technologies that influence society by extending human sense perceptions. With the emergence of media as platforms for communication, McLuhan coined the phrase the medium is the message, through which he argued that the institution has a cultural significance that lies not in its content but how it changes the perceptions of people. Based on his assertions regarding technological determinism, the underlying issue is that the approach aids people to understand the influence of technology on society, hence its significance.
In as much as technological determinism is critical, it comes with numerous limitations. Foremost, technological determinism might limit human agency. In other words, this belief suggests that technology is uncontrollable, a perspective that disempowers people. Overemphasis on the issue of “technological determinist” could see people embrace the idea that they can do nothing to stop technological advancements even if they have adverse effects on society such as causing pollution. Secondly, the theory’s emphasis that technology is important to societal change makes humans adopt the belief that they cannot intervene in matters concerning technological development. The third limitation is that it brands technology as not only inexplicable but also mysterious. Fourth, the theory stresses that any influence on what happens in society can only be as a result of technological experts. Indeed, this means that non-technological experts have no alternative but to adapt any emerging technologies even if they are detrimental. A fifth limitation that rules out the significance of the “technological determinist” is its argument that humans have no right to reject technological development. It further describes any attempt to dismiss technological development as a useless endeavor. Indeed, it implies that humans cannot take any measures against the adverse impacts of technological advancements on the economy, environment, and other sectors.
To sum up, technological determinism, a commonplace term in the media and among politicians, is of great significance. The primary argument is that it helps people understand the influence of technology on society. This argument is underscored by many theorists such as Marshall McLuhan who avers that technological determinism has played a crucial role in restructuring and reshaping patterns of social interdependence and other aspects of people’s lives. However, the perception that technological determinism is important can be ruled out given its numerous limitations. Among other limitations, the issue rejects the idea of people’s involvement in stopping technological advancements in cases they have adverse effects on society. Since technological developments are part of contemporary society, individuals must accept the idea of technological determinism. It is only through this that they will understand and appreciate societal changes caused by technology.